Stellenbosch FC ready for unknowns of CAF football, says Steve Barker

Stellenbosch FC star Jayden Adams has been linked with a move to Mamelodi Sundowns. Photo: BackpagePix

Stellenbosch FC star Jayden Adams has been linked with a move to Mamelodi Sundowns. Photo: BackpagePix

Published May 23, 2024


Whatever the outcomes of Saturday’s DStv Premiership matches, Stellenbosch FC will play in a CAF (Confederation of African Football) competition next year.

Stellenbosch (50 points) are in second place behind runaway log-leaders Mamelodi Sundowns (73) in the Premiership standings.

They are handsomely placed to secure a CAF Champions League berth ahead of the third-placed Orlando Pirates (49).

They cannot finish the season lower than third place, so are guaranteed to play in either the Champions League or the lower-tier Confederation Cup.

If they finish second, it will be the Champions League next season.

“The Champions League will be better,” Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker at his club’s 2023/24 awards ceremony in the area’s Town Hall on Tuesday night.

“We are ready to play in Africa. Before that, we will look at our squad and ensure we have the depth. The schedule could be hectic as the season winds on.”

Barker has not been resting on his laurels, and has chatted with Sundowns officials about playing in Africa.

“Mentality-wise the key is to be well-prepared, because we must prepare for the unknowns. We must be prepared for what’s going to be thrown at us,” said Barker.

“We have already asked Sundowns for help – not from a footballing side, but from a logistics side of things and how to approach certain things.

“I don’t know if we will be allowed to charter planes and send chefs in advance of our travelling to countries.

“There are certain things that we can learn from them. It would be unwise on our part not to speak to a team like Sundowns from a footballing point of view, on and off the field.

“One can see how they have matured as a group of players. They know how to win, and once you know how to win, you become a difficult team to play against.”

— Stellenbosch FC (@StellenboschFC) May 22, 2024

Stellenbosch are playing the relegation-doomed Richards Bay at the King Zwelithini Stadium in uMlazi, Durban, on Saturday.

The teams are at opposite ends of the log, but the result is not a foregone conclusion because of recent form.

Stellenbosch have two defeats and a draw in their past three games. Richards Bay, over the same period, have a win and draw.

Pirates recently also suffered an unexpected defeat (against Richards Bay) – and that allowed Stellenbosch to hold on to second place.

Barker described Pirates’ recent defeats as a “lifeline” that allowed his team to remain in second.

“I don’t think we can get three lifelines in three weeks, so it’s our responsibility to win a football match against Richards Bay on Saturday,” said Barker.

“If we could win, it will turn out to be an incredible season for us. It is still in our own hands.”

— Stellenbosch FC (@StellenboschFC) May 22, 2024

Barker has issued a warning to clubs showing interest in his players, with star midfielder Jayden Adams already linked with a move to Sundowns.

“The better you become as a football club – winning cups and being second, players making Bafana Bafana, their value goes up,” said Barker.

“If clubs are coming to look for our players, I don’t think it’s going to be easy as it was in the past.”